REVIEW: The Strange Library – Haruki Murakami


My first foray into Murakami sees me adventure into a library where reality is twisted in a surrealist short story that is just really super weird.

Spoiler Alert: Surrealism is weird. Like, super weird. 

I once tried to read one of Haruki Murakami’s most popular works 1Q84, and my commitment issues reared their ugly heads rendering me unable to get past even the first hundred pages (it’s 900-and-something pages long), so I felt like trying again with something much smaller was the smart idea.

At 77 pages long The Strange Library was almost a little too short for me once I got into it, but it was a perfect start to my 2018 reading year.

There’s not much that I can say regarding the plot points of the story without giving something away because it’s so short, and the story moved very quickly.

I found it quite predictable, but as intended it made me feel really… off balance (I don’t know if that’s quite the term I’m looking for but it’s the best I can do right now).

Once I closed the book all I could think was, that was so weird. I’m 99.563% sure thats the intended response to surrealism, so props to you Mr. Murakami, you made me feel weird.

There was no conclusive ending to this story, which adds to that off-balancing sense of peculiarity, and although it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, I can’t deny that it achieved what it set out to do.

Although I wasn’t the world biggest fan of the story, I still found myself wanting more, which is strange in itself. Apparently my response to Murakami’s work is just as weird as the work is.

From a readability point of view, I really enjoyed the writing style, it was easy to read and the illustrations in the book made it extra interesting. I liked the characters but I felt that the length of the book limited their growth and I would have liked to have seen more depth from them.

As strange as I found The Strange Library,  I must appreciate the deeper meaning that could be taken from it, but weirdly, I can’t quite pinpoint what that meaning is.

The Strange Library is just a book filled with something that keeps on escaping me, and just like the book I’ve little idea what to rate it… five stars for weirdness, but I have no idea about the rest.

Check out my Rating Scale here

Book Details


Title:  The Strange Library
Author: Haruki Murakami
Publisher: Vintage Publishing (Harvill Secker)
Publish Date: 15 Dec 2014
Pages: 88
ISBN10: 1846559219
ISBN 13: 9781846559211
Blurb: Fully illustrated and beautifully designed, this is a unique and wonderfully creepy tale that is sure to delight Murakami fans. ‘All I did was go to the library to borrow some books’. On his way home from school, the young narrator of The Strange Library finds himself wondering how taxes were collected in the Ottoman Empire. He pops into the local library to see if it has a book on the subject. This is his first mistake. Led to a special ‘reading room’ in a maze under the library by a strange old man, he finds himself imprisoned with only a sheepman, who makes excellent donuts, and a girl, who can talk with her hands, for company. His mother will be worrying why he hasn’t returned in time for dinner and the old man seems to have an appetite for eating small boy’s brains. How will he escape?

Mikaela is an illustrator, and writer based in QLD, Australia. She's been writing novels for eleven years and editing for six. You can often find her with a coffee by the beach, pondering existentialism and the psychology of writing. She has a Bachelor of Biomedical Science and takes pride in her paradoxical nature. She's also very much like a cat.

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